Tracy Porter signs with Broncos; Jo-Lonn Dunbar weighing move to Rams
By Keith Null
In the wake of the NFL’s punishment of the New Orleans Saints for their participation in a bounty system — which has resulted in a year long suspension for head coach Sean Payton — news on free agents has taken a back seat the last few days.
Cornerback Tracy Porter has come to terms with the Denver Broncos on a one-year contract that will move the former second round pick from the Big Easy to the Mile High city.
Porter became an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, and it’s unclear whether the Saints put an offer on the table to retain his services — whether as a starter or not.
But rumor has it the Saints never did make an offer to Porter, who’s play seemed to be on the decline in recent seasons. He allowed a 71.3% completion percentage in 2011.
Last year Patrick Robinson, the teams first round pick in the 2010 NFL draft, emerged as a better cover man and tackler than Porter and eventually took over the starting position beside Jabari Greer.
Porter started 39-games with the Saints at right corner amassing 194 tackles, 32 pass deflections, 7 interceptions, and 4 forced fumbles.
But Porter is not a “bad” player per say — a better man-cover corner then zone — but lacks the physicality needed in run support and often misses tackles completely in one-on-one situations.
In Denver Porter is likely being viewed as the number two corner behind perennial Pro Bowler Champ Bailey, so he should see significant playing in 2012, which is something the Saints could not have guaranteed.
On an interesting side note Porter will join the Broncos newest acquisitions in Peyton Manning, the man Tracy famously picked off in Superbowl XLIV to help seal the Saints first ever championsip.
Porter also received interest from the Bengals, Raiders, and Rams.
Meanwhile the Saints will likely move ahead with Robinson and Greer as their starting duo. Second year corner Johnny Patrick, a third round pick last year, will also likely figure more prominently in the defense next season.
Linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar is in St. Louis to visit with the Rams, where his former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams resides, or moreover did reside before an indefinite suspension by the NFL for leading the bounty program.
Dunbar filled in nicely last year with the Saints, not only at outside linebacker, but also at middle linebacker while stepping in for an injured Jonathan Vilma.
He had his best season as a pro — amassing 90 tackles, one sack and two forced fumbles — but has had little interest from teams in free agency while debating an offer to return to the Saints.
Dunbar prefers to play as a middle linebacker, which was his positions at Boston college, but the Saints may have other plans there after meeting with free agent middle linebackers Curtis Lofton, David Hawthorne, and Joe Mays (re-signed with Denver).
The Rams could lure Dunbar away with the proposition of being a starter immediately, but he won’t get to start at middle linebacker with the Rams for sure considering James Laurinaitis is firmly entrenched as the starter.
For now Dunbar will weigh his options, but the likely scenario is a return to the New Orleans Saints where he is comfortable and utilized, plus he has to be excited about working with new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo.